On demand drug synthesis has been demonstrated by an MIT team and several affiliated spin-off companies.
The 1 April 2016 issue of SCIENCE includes a paper by Andrea Adamo and 13 co-authors describing a refrigerator size continuous flow chemistry machine for the automated synthesis/production of four drugs, including the generics to Benadryl, Valium, and Prozac. One of the syntheses utilizes methylamine.
A commentary in the same issue titled Going with the flow suggests that one key issue is ‘how to avoid the the production of illicit substances’. The on demand, programmable system includes built-in on line spectroscopy as well as key purification steps, like ‘ … phase separation, precipitations, and crystallizations, …’.
“Cool,” Bill said. “That was one of our final discussions with Tom – right at the end of State Change.”
“Yes, we referred to it as Robo-Chem. We talked about the possibility when we also discussed ‘brewing’ and genetic engineering to produce organisms which could directly produce drugs of interest,” I added.
“So the Dilbert cartoon we noted is not fantasy or even prophecy ..,” Jay added.
Bill, interrupting: “…No, it’s now an almost certainty, if not quite fact.”
“There’s still the ‘illicit substance’ concern,” I cautioned. “That won’t stop lots of hackers and chemical engineers,” Jay said.
“Maybe search for MDMA machine on the dark web in a year or two.”